Catechism of the Catholic Church

570 Part Three 2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalt­ ed vocation to parenthood.” 157 2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regula­ tion based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. 158 These meth­ ods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness be­ tween them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the con­ jugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil: 159 Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contra­ ception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The differ­ ence, both anthropological and moral, between contracep­ tion and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. 160 2371 “Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of trans­ mitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference to man’s eternal destiny. ” 161 2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful infor­ mation, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children. 162 In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law. 157 Cf. HV 12. 158 HV 16. 159 HV 14. 160 FC 32. 161 GS 51 § 4. 162 Cf. HV 23; PP 37. 1703 2209